(UPDATE 6pm 25 August 2012: State Highway 29 is now open to one lane. The Sunday work is cancelled.) The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) would like to remind drivers that State Highway 29 at Ruahihi Bluffs, west of Tauranga will be closed for most of this weekend from 7.00am to 6.00pm on Saturday (25 August) and Sunday (26 August). This section of the road will reopen on Saturday night with the works expected to be completed by Sunday night at 6.00pm.
This road closure will enable workers to remove a large free standing column of loose rock from above the state highway.
The state highway remains open to one lane until this weekend’s work commences. It is expected the state highway will be fully reopened on Sunday night when the blasting work to remove the loose large rock is completed.
The NZTA’s Bay of Plenty state highways manager, Brett Gliddon, says the loose rock needs to be removed now and blasting is the best way to remove it.
A detour via Poripori Road will be available when the section of SH29 at Ruahihi (on the Tauranga side of the Kaimais) is closed. The detour route will add an additional 30 minutes to journey time, drivers are advised to allow for the additional travel time or where possible use alternate state highway routes - such as SH2 if travelling between Tauranga and Auckland or SH36 and SH5 if heading west towards the South Waikato and Taupo area.
Rugby supporters travelling from Taranaki to the Steamers and Taranaki game this Saturday are advised to allow sufficient time for their journey.
“Fans need to plan their journeys in advance to allow for the additional travel time if heading to Tauranga, we do not anticipate large numbers of travellers and we have certainly allowed for the expected volumes using either the detour route or the alternate roads. This section of the highway will reopen from 6.00pm on Saturday.
“We really appreciate that drivers, local residents and businesses feel the impact of such closures, and we aim to minimise the effect as much as possible, but the nature of our landscape in the Bay of Plenty does leave our roads vulnerable to such natural events and our main priority is to ensure that our state highway is always at a safe standard for driving.
Mr Gliddon says before starting their journeys people should check with the NZTA's freephone 08004 HIGHWAYS or 0800 44 44 49, or its website www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) for up-to-the-minute info on road conditions.